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Miles v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 3, 2018

JOSEPH MILES
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs November 14, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 4965 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         The Petitioner, Joseph Miles, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged his second degree murder conviction and resulting forty-year sentence. We conclude that the Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief, and we affirm the denial of his petition in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed Pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals

          Joseph Miles, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE

         In 1998, a Robertson County jury convicted the Petitioner of second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to forty years in prison as a Range II offender. This court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See State v. Joseph Miles, No. M1998-00682-CCA-R3-PC, 2001 WL 166368, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 16, 2001). The Petitioner has repeatedly and unsuccessfully pursued relief from his conviction and sentence. See Joseph Miles v. State, No. M2003-01871-CCA-R3-PC, 2005 WL 2438392, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 26, 2005) (post-conviction); Joseph Miles v. State, No. M2006-02088-CCA-R3-HC, 2007 WL 1828879, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 26, 2007) (habeas corpus); Joseph Miles v. State, No. M2008-00506- CCA-R3-PC, 2009 WL 890892, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 26, 2009) (reopen post-conviction petition); Joseph Miles v. State, No. M2016-00556-CCA-R3-ECN, 2017 WL 3234014, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 31, 2017) (coram nobis), no perm. app. filed.

         In July 2015, the Petitioner filed a second petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he alleged that Tennessee law did not authorize county grand juries and that, as a result, his conviction and sentence were void. On January 12, 2017, the habeas corpus court entered an order finding that county grand juries were lawful and denying the Petitioner's petition. The Petitioner appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         Article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that "the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of rebellion or invasion, the General Assembly shall declare the public safety requires it." Habeas corpus may be sought by "[a]ny person imprisoned or restrained of liberty ... to inquire into the cause of such imprisonment and restraint." T.C.A. § 29-21-101(a). The application for the writ must be made by petition and verified by affidavit. T.C.A. § 29-21-107(a). The granting or denial of a petition for habeas corpus relief is a question of law reviewed de novo with no presumption of correctness afforded to the trial court's findings or conclusions. Edwards v. State, 269 S.W.3d 915, 919 (Tenn. 2008).

         While the statutory language "appears broad, in fact, '[h]abeas corpus under Tennessee law has always been, and remains, a very narrow procedure.'" Id. (quoting Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 162 (Tenn. 1993). In order to merit relief, a petitioner must establish that the challenged judgment is not merely voidable, but void. Hogan v. Mills, 168 S.W.3d 753, 755 (Tenn. 2005). A judgment is voidable when it is "facially valid and requires proof beyond the face of the record or judgment to establish its invalidity." Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 256 (Tenn. 2007). A void judgment, on the other hand, is "one that is facially invalid because the court did not have the statutory authority to render such judgment." Id. "[T]he question of whether a judgment is void 'is always one of jurisdiction, that is, whether the order, judgment or process under attack comes within the lawful authority of the court or judge rendering or issuing it.'" Edwards, 269 S.W.3d at 920 (quoting State ex rel. Anglin v. Mitchell, 575 S.W.2d 284, 287 (Tenn. 1979), overruled on other grounds by Archer, 851 S.W.2d at 162-64).

         Relief is only available when "'it appears upon the face of the judgment or the record of the proceedings upon which the judgment is rendered' that a convicting court was without jurisdiction or authority to sentence a defendant, or that a defendant's sentence of imprisonment or other restraint has expired." Archer, 851 S.W.2d at 164 (quoting State v. Galloway, 45 Tenn. 326, 336-37 (Tenn. 1868)). The habeas corpus court has the authority to dismiss the petition if the petition shows that the petitioner "would not be entitled to any relief." T.C.A. ยง 29-21-109. Accordingly, if the petition ...


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